Using A Micro Loan To Start A Home Business

The micro loan began to support poverty stricken people, who were unable to prove that they could repay. Using charitable donations, these impoverished individuals could fund their small businesses, and start to create some wealth and income by themselves. Frequently, a high rate of interest is charged, due to the servicing difficulties of these small loans. However, for those who have no alternative option, these loans can be very welcome.

Using A Micro Loan To Start A Home Business

Micro lending schemes have been very successful, and have started to be used on more mainstream projects. A home business start up, with an unproven business plan, or a stay at home mom, who has no collateral and little credit, could both benefit from micro lending. Although micro loans normally mean small amounts overseas (i.e. roughly $100.00 on average), this is a bit different in the US. Usually, banks do not provide loans below $50000.00 for small businesses. However, with micro lending, the majority are from $1000.00 to $15000.00. Obviously, this fluctuates depending on the lender.

While micro loans are easier to acquire than traditional loans, and normally permit lower borrowed amounts, you still have to satisfy a few requirements to qualify for one. This varies depending on whom you borrow from, but here are some of the more common criteria. You must not have filed for bankruptcy recently, you must prove you have a stable income to support the loan repayment, you must have no overdue bills, and you must not have a credit score that is classed as "high risk".

As with all start up businesses, a sound business plan is a prerequisite. This is particularly true whenever you lack the collateral or credit to obtain a standard loan. You will need to prove that you are prepared to use your micro loan to create sufficient income to repay your lender.
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How to Save Money - Even on a Tight Budget

The expense of higher education seems dear when you’re looking at tuition and student-loan interest rates, but when you start factoring in the cost of living, the numbers begin to seem staggering. If you’re pinching pennies in college or grad school, you’d better be prepared to tap all your creative faculties. Living frugally isn’t impossible, but it is at times an art form that requires experience and energy to master. From buying generic brand goods to riding a bike, these five tips to save money will help you meet your budgetary goals:

1. Buy Generic Brands

From breakfast cereal to prescription drugs, you can save money on many products simply by giving up the brand name. Generic brands are often able to produce identical products at lower prices simply by cutting down on marketing and advertising costs. You will be amazed at the difference: Generic cereals are often half the cost of the original, and prescription drugs can be hundreds of dollars cheaper.

2. Use the Library

One of our nation’s most under-appreciated and valuable public institutions is the public library, and students also have access to well-stocked private institutional libraries as well. Avoid purchasing textbooks and research materials unless absolutely necessary, but make sure to check out the books you need early (i.e before your classmates do!).

3. Find Online Discounts

Coupon-clipping has fallen out of fashion, but there are zillions of apps that will help you save money in ingenious ways. Savored allows you to book last minute reservations for fine dining at deep discounts, which is an unbelievable combination, and Foursquare will tell you where your friends are shopping and eating, while also alerting you to sweet deals at the same locations.

4. Ride a Bike

Biking will save you the expense of gas or a monthly subway pass. Plus, in some large cities, a bike will get you where you’re going faster than a car or public transportation! It’s the right thing to do for the environment and an excellent form of exercise. If you’re not convinced yet, you’re probably just being stubborn. Loosen up -- by taking a ride!

5. Buy a Printer

Printing on campus or at a copyshop costs a fortune, while older-model printers can be bought dirt cheap. This will also save you the trouble of waiting in line to print, and dealing with the paper jams in the arcane industrial-sized machines on campus.

While these five tips to save money will help you shrink your spending, they aren’t the only ways to reduce costs. The trick to living frugally is making conscious decisions about how you spend your money and bringing those decisions into line with your real priorities. Marketing and advertising are designed to provoke impulse spending on items we don’t really value, and this is one major area where Americans lose control of their budgets. If you think about why you want something, how badly you want it and what else you could spend the money on each time you take out your wallet, you’ll be surprised how many purchases you can do without.

About the author : 

Melissa Woodson is the community manager for @WashULaw, one of the premier LLM programs offered through Washington University in St. Louis that allows foreign attorneys to earn their llm degree online. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.
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Pay Yourself First: Savings Tips and Tricks

The ancient Babylonians were credited with mean the first people who came up with the idea of "paying yourself first." Although it is an old idea, it is still just as effective today as it was then. If you want to be able to grow your wealth, and live a more comfortable lifestyle, paying yourself first is critical. Here are a few tips and tricks that you can use to pay yourself first and boost your savings.

Take Some of Your Paycheck First

Pay Yourself First: Savings Tips and Tricks
In some cases, you can have a portion of your paycheck put directly into some sort of savings account. Some payroll service providers make it possible for employees to send money from their paychecks to multiple accounts. You could have some of your paycheck go into your main checking account and another portion go into a savings account or an investment account. By doing this, you won't even notice the money coming out of your paycheck. Before long, you'll have a large sum built up in your savings account.

Automatic Transfers

Another way that you can pay yourself first is to have automatic transfers set up with your bank account. For instance, you can set it up to have an automatic transfer done from your bank account to a savings account every time you get paid. When you make it automatic, you take it out of your hands. You don't have to make a conscious decision to transfer money to your account every month. By doing this, you can accumulate some major savings along the way. 

Don't Wait 

One of the big mistakes that many people make when it comes to saving money is that they try to wait until later in the month to transfer money to a savings account. They think that they'll pay all of the bills and expenses that they have, and then save anything that is left over. The problem with this scenario is that there is nothing left over. If you transfer the money right when you get paid, you have a much better chance of being able to actually save some money. Otherwise, you'll probably end up spending most of the money before it can hit your savings account.

Special Debit Card

Some banks are now offering special debit cards that transfer the change left over on each purchase to a savings account. For example, if you spend $4.20, $.80 will be transferred to your savings account. This makes it easy to get some money in a savings account. 

Overall, there are plenty of ways for you to start saving, if you will just do it. Make it a priority to begin saving money today.
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Two Methods to Reduce Credit Card Debt

The warning signs are all there. Your credit card bills are slowly increasing, while more and more you have to juggle your finances to pay everything on time. Even worse is if you miss a payment and face even greater challenges with penalty fees and increased interest rates. You know you need to take action to get your debt under control, but what’s the most effective way to pay back what you owe?

There are two methods to reduce credit card debt that have proven effective for consumers. Which method you choose is largely a matter of where you are with your finances and how you feel the most comfortable in paying them back.

Method 1: The Debt Meltdown Method

With this strategy of debt reduction, you focus all of your efforts to paying off your high interest rate debts first. Since these debts build faster with accrued interest, it is often more efficient to pay them off first. In the long run you save money because you pay less for interest added to your debts.

Two Methods to Reduce Credit Card Debt

You start by taking aggressive action to streamline your budget as much as possible. This allows you to free up money that can be put towards reducing your debt. Reduce discretionary expenses as much as you can for a while and look for ways to reduce flexible expenses, such as food or gas. You may need to commit to eating at home more and taking your lunch to work, couponing, and finding people to carpool with so you can share the high cost of gas. Keep in mind these cutbacks are only temporary, so these expenses can be reestablished once your debts are paid.

Once you have as much money as possible, focus that extra cash on paying off your highest interest rate debt first. Pay all of the minimum amounts required on the rest of your credit card bills, but put everything you freed up from your budget to paying off one debt at a time. After you pay off your highest interest rate debt, move on to your next highest, and so on until you are debt-free.

Method 2: The Debt Rollup Method

In some cases – either because your highest interest rate debt is too large or because you can’t free up enough money to pay it off quickly – you may wish to use the debt rollup method instead. This strategy largely works in the same way, except you focus on paying off the debt with the smallest balance first.

This allows you to see a positive impact from your efforts faster. It can also help you gain momentum to tackle your bigger debts. After you pay off the first credit card, you can “roll up” that money with the money freed up from your budget to pay off the next smallest debt. With each debt you pay, you have more money available to pay off the next debt until you are completely free of credit card debt.

If you assess your budget and even the rollup method won’t allow you to pay off your debts efficiently, it may be time to seek help. Contact a trained credit counselor to get an assessment of your situation. They can evaluate your debts, review your budget, and provide options to help you find relief from debt.

About the author : Connie Solidad has been writing about finances and debt consolidation for years. She's an expert in the industry and writes about debt management and credit counseling options and resources. When Connie is not working, she loves playing with her two dogs in Tampa, Florida. To learn more about debt management refer to 
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Remodeling: Keeping it Affordable

In the current tough-as-nails housing market, there’s no question that remodeling your home can add some much needed resale value to your home. While taking out a loan and hiring a licensed contractor to do a major remodel will yield great results, many of us just can’t afford the cost. Luckily, there are many simple things you can do to drastically change the look of a room in your house while not spending a lot of money.

Before we begin with the specifics, let’s get into some general concepts.

Remodeling: Keeping it Affordable
1) Concentrate on one room or one series of rooms (kitchen or bathrooms come to mind) instead of tackling the whole house.

2) Second, if you’re remodeling on a budget it’s best to pay cash for everything and not take out a loan.

3) Keep a very close eye on your budget. Lists and spreadsheets are your friend. Plan it out ahead of time.

4) Warm colors are in right now—they’ll bring a positive, relaxing energy to your home. Fifth, start small but look at the big picture. This will make more sense as we go through some specific ideas.


That little plate around your light switch or electrical outlet is often ignored, but let’s face it- these often off-white or cream-colored pieces of plastic often accumulate a staggering amount of dirt and grime over the years. Swapping them out with new switchplates (in warm colors) will highlight all the work you’ve done to a room. They’re cheap and they make a big difference.


Faucet knobs, cabinet hardware and door handles are easily replaced. Since we touch them so much, they often show signs of wear and tear faster than many other items in our homes. Sticking with the warm color scheme, bronze or a convincing faux-bronze are great options for sprucing up a room.


This is perhaps the cheapest way to make a big change in a room. For a kitchen or bathroom, try using a high gloss paint that won’t absorb spills or splatters. If you’re on an extremely tight budget, remember that you can change the whole tone of the room with just one accent wall painted in a different color.


Old, raggedy curtains are an eyesore. Old floral curtains that have been in a home for decades can also bog a living space down. There are many inexpensive curtain options available, and almost any set of curtains that looks bright and clean will drastically improve the look of a room.


Just as faucets get an overwhelming amount of traffic from our hands, rugs are abused by dirty shoes and what we track in from the outside world. Kitchen and bathroom rugs are battered by water, both dirty and clean, and a multitude of soaps and cleaning products. Look closely at the rug in the room you’re remodeling, and if it needs a change, swap it out. A new rug can really tie a room together.


Even if you’re not replacing the entire cabinet system, this can add up quickly. If it’s in your budget, swap out cabinet doors with freshly varnished or painted replacements. If you’re on a slimmer budget that does not allow new cabinet doors, just replace the handles and hardware. A little new metal goes a long way.


This is perhaps the cheapest thing you can do to improve the look of a room. Remove the clutter from bookcases, countertops and other surfaces. If a surface looks wide open then it looks more inviting. Less clutter gives a room a new, cared-for feel. No one is saying you need to get rid of your knick knacks or your salt and pepper shakers—just put them somewhere out of sight.

Utilizing any combination of these ideas should provide a cheap, easy way to breathe new life into a room without relying on loans or a contractor. If you plan the remodel out ahead of time, keep a tight budget and look at the big picture while you change small things, you’ll be living in a brand new space in no time at all.

About the author : Tim Richmond is a passionate blogger who writes about the economy, finance and home ownership. He is an online publisher for 1st Tribal lending.
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An Idiot’s Guide to IR35

An Idiot’s Guide to IR35
Have you ever found yourself feeling slightly dazed and confused about IR35 legislation? If so, you’re not alone! The IR35 is a difficult topic to get to grips with for many contractors and entrepreneurs, so it’s about time we put together a straightforward, no-nonsense idiot’s guide to this piece of legislation, to allow you to stay out of financial difficulty.

The legislation was introduced back in 2000 in early April. At the time, the UK ir35 rules launched by the government were intended to stop individuals from leaving their jobs on Friday before coming back to the office the following Monday in the role of a contracted ‘consultant’, thereby enjoying tax relief benefits while still receiving the standard employee benefits. This sort of ‘disguised employment’ was a massive problem in the 1990s, and the IR35 was meant to render the widespread issue redundant in the workplace.

Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go to plan!

Since the introduction of the IR35, numerous sole traders and limited companies have found themselves falling unwittingly foul of the legislation, perhaps as a result of their business practices not closely matching those of contractors in the same industry, or perhaps as a result of failing to produce accurate documentation of their business practices for an official HMRC investigation.

Let’s take a look at the aspects HMRC may investigate in order to check whether or not you fall outside IR35:

Financial Risk: It is a rare occurrence for permanent employees to put their finances at serious risk. It therefore makes sense that, In order to be outside IR35, you need to prove that you’re at financial risk. Let’s say, for example, that a client fails to pay you on time. As a contractor, this places you at financial risk and this is something you need to prove.

Company Benefits: All contractors falling outside IR35 will not be entitled to company benefits such as holiday pay, pension contributions, sick pay, or training courses.

Control: Are you in control of your daily work schedule? Can you clearly demonstrate this? You’ll need to be able to if HMRC start prying.

Company equipment: The company equipment debate is a bit of a grey area, as some clients do not allow personal laptops to be used due to security fears. It is, however, something to keep in mind.

Performing Your Task: The IR35 rules state that there should be a clause in your contract that disallows any other person from performing the role you’ve been hired to perform by any given company.

Dismissal period: If you have a set notice period in certain industries, HMRC might consider this asking to the rules that apply to a permanent employee. As such, many contractors have immediate terminations written into their contracts. This might seem like a bit of a negative point, but think positively; this could turn out well for you if the company hiring you turns out not to be the best to work for!

It is worth remembering that there are significant advantages to keeping within IR35 as a contractor. For example, you will be able to enjoy tax relief by claiming business expenses, with the aim being to help develop your business for the future while improving the services you have to offer potential clients.

One thing to bear in mind, though: you need to keep receipts as evidence of all the expenses incurred during your work contract. HMRC are within their rights to ask to see all records dating back as far back as the last six years, so don’t be too quick to throw those flimsy bits of paper in the bin!

Claiming expenses if you own a limited company is quite a straightforward process. Any expenses claimed must be for your business, which can cover aspects such as travel costs, overnight accommodation, meals consumed away from your place of work, pensions, and training courses.

Meanwhile, if your contract falls within IR35, bear in mind that the only expenses you can claim are admin costs, fixed at 5% of your contract income, travel and accommodation expenses, pension contributions.

Being a full time employee brings with it its own benefits, but contracting through your own limited company or setting up as a sole trader can also bring with it some serious advantages. The IR35 rules may well be open to interpretation due to a couple of grey areas, but a good contractor accountancy will be able to clarify any confusion for you. Some accountants will even offer a verbal review free of charge in order to encourage you to call back with other issues and requests for services.
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5 Apps For Managing Personal Finance

If you are looking for an easy and convenient way to keep track of your finances, both at home and on-the-go, use your iPhone, Android or Blackberry phone to organize your financial life. There are hundreds of personal finance apps available for download, but only a few can provide a comprehensive picture of your current and future financial life. 

1. (iPhone, BlackBerry and Android) is an impressive personal finance app that allows users to manage and track spending and savings. The app syncs with the website, allowing users to access their profile directly from their smartphone device. This handy app compiles a wealth of financial information including user’s bank accounts, credit cards, loans and retirement accounts. 

5 Apps For Managing Personal Finance

In addition to providing a comprehensive picture of user’s financial information, the app tracks and charts spending, provides handy bill pay reminders and categorizes debit and credit card transactions. One of the app’s coolest features is its ability to create charts and graphs that track your spending trends. The app also allows users to compare their spending habits with other users. The app is free and can be downloaded from your smartphone’s app store.

2. MoneyStrands (iPhone)

MoneyStrands is a personal finance app that compiles and categorizes information from your checking and credit card accounts. In addition to compiling financial information, the app provides a visual spending analysis to help users better understand their own spending and saving habits. 

One of the app’s best features is its ability to compare user’s spending habits with other people who share similar demographics. MoneyStrands is available for the iPod Touch and iPhone and can be downloaded for free. 

3. RetirePlan (iPad)

If you are close to retirement or looking to get a better picture of your post-retirement budget, RetirePlan can help you gain a better understanding of your future financial life. This handy app allows users to upload their financial data and run scenarios to see how different variables will impact their retirement plans.

The app helps users determine the best age to retire, charts annual retirement savings goals and projects how long your retirement savings will last. One of the app’s best features is the variable calculator. The variable calculator allows users to see how changes in their pension, social security, interest rates and inflation will impact their retirements saving. RetirePlan is only available for the iPad and can be downloaded from the iTunes Store for free. 

4. PayPal (iPhone, BlackBerry and Android)

If you like making online purchases but don’t want to use your credit or debit card for your transaction, then you probably already have a Paypal account. If you have a PayPal account, be sure to download the PayPal app to your smartphone to keep track of your PayPal account information and online spending. 

This handy little app allows mobile users to check their Paypal balance on-the-go, withdraw and add funds to their account and transfer cash between their PayPal account and bank account. Download the free PayPal app from your smartphone’s app store. 

5. Smart Money Retirement Planner (iPhone and Android)

Whether you are fresh out of college or ending your career as a business professional, it never hurts to think about retirement… and the SmartMoney Retirement Planner app can help you do it! This powerful app helps users understand how their day-to-day financial choices impact their plans for retirement.

The app compiles user’s demographic and financial information, including assets, 401K and home equity, to run scenarios which determine how inflation, changes in social security, debt and taxes will impact their retirement plans. SmartMoney Retirement Planner is available for iPhone and Android phones and can be downloaded for free. 
About the author : Rosie writes on behalf of a number of businesses ranging from Auto Enrolment Administration to holiday destinations. She enjoys reading design and technology blogs and baking sweet treats. Any opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the businesses Rosie writes for.
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